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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Thu Sep 28, 2000  3:34 pm
Subject:  Brazil: Fernando Capovilla Writes to SW List

Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2000 23:19:57 -0300
From: Fernando Capovilla
Subject: brief frontline report

Dear friends,

A war is over. And as I take a deep breath and lay back for a moment, I
would like to share some words with you.

First of all I want to say something I wanted to have said before, but I
couldnīt simply because I was out, fundraising (I could noy hold a
keyboard, cause I had to hold a hat, being the beggar I am...). I wanted
to say how honored and happy I was to receive Charles Butler for a visit
in Sao Paulo. He is a gifted artist, an impressive man, and already a
good "old" friend. (After a 30 min conversation, I felt as if I knew him
for years). He sang some songs of his beautiful playwright and brought
sunshine and warmth to a gray winter day. Friends bring us precious
moments, soon transformed in memories to cherish.

Second of all, our dearest Valerie asked me to share some good news with you.

The "Brazilian Sign Language Enclyclopedic Illustrated Trilingual
Dictionary" is complete and will be published in December or January. It
is complete with all accessories (including an English to Portuguese
thesaurus with 9,500 entries so that anyone capable of reading this
message will be able to find each and everyone of the thousands of
Brazilian Sign Language signs). After a long and tiresome round of
battles I finally obtained the necessary finantial support from private,
public and third sector organizations. (Now that the "War &" part is
over, I am anxious to meet with the "Peace" part of the long novel...
:-)) A very nice article was published at the O Estado de Sao Paulo
newspaper about it to celebrate the financing. (Valerie will post it
when she has a chance in the future.) Obtaining support was as hard as
writing the dictionary itself. I need a retirement -- a vacation wonīt
be enough :-)

As I was fighting the last battle to secure financing, my collaborators,
Walkiria Raphael and Renato Luz, were in Rio last week to show the
dictionary to our deaf & hearing - friends & colleagues in Rio (a 650
people audience) at the renowned Instituto Nacional de Educacao e
Integracao de Surdos (INES). It was a national meeting with people from
all states of this continental - sized country. Kika, Renato and the
dictionary were kindly welcomed by the gentle audience. They were all
very pleased to realize the large commonality that exists between the
two states (as a matter of facts, among the several states, since it was
a national meeting) in terms of lexical signs. Even though the signs
that differ among states are the ones that tend to call our attention
the most (that is ony human), truth is that there is an unexpectedly
large commonality basis. This means that the dictionary will be useful
in Rio and in the other states too, as well as in our home base, Sao
Paulo. We were so glad. :-) Of course, SignWriting was well received, as
always. :-)

Even though SignWriting is just a newborn baby (or an embryo) -- as far
as history of writing systems are concerned (see Robinson 1996 The story
of writing for a timetable) -- it has attained an amaizing success (the
reality of which is sometimes blurred by our revolutionary anxieties).
According to Valerie, "approximately 2,000 new visitors visit the
SignWritingSite every 10 days or so... and some of them stay on the web
site for hours, taking all the lessons" I was very pleased to know that,
according to Valerie, "over the last few months a quarter of the
visitors have been from Brazil." According to her "The most heavily
visited part of our web site is the Lessons section. The second most
visited is the Children Stories section. And the third most visited is
the SignWriting in Brazil section." (So, it seems there is hope for us here
in Americaīs down right subcontinent. :-))

I canīt wait until our colleagues of the SignWriting list have a chance
to have the dictionary in their hands. It is truly a work of God, the
most beautiful thing I have ever seen. And it will do wonders to our
people. It is also a proof that deaf and hearing may work together in
perfect harmony when they concentrate in the benefit the work will bring
to the children and to a better world. I thank Valerie for her precious

Back to work now. Iīll be away for the next 2 weeks, working hard, as
everyone else. Now that the dictionary is over I must resume working
with patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a fatal
disease that paralyzes them to death. I am engaged in a nationwide
effort to help these patients have the means to communicate so as to
receive better treatment, medicine, emotional and spiritual help and
support. We have developed the best communication software ever for them
(that transform discrete eye blinking into complete sentences with
digitized speech full of prosody, emotion and identity) and need to
obtain computers so as to be able to donate the communication systems to
the patients in a large scale. So, another war begins. And in the
exactly precise manner in which we won the dictionary battle by
producing our cherished, wonderful first Brazilian Sign Language
dictionary, we shall win again this war against silence and paralysis in
the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis field. There is not a slight shadow of
doubt about it in our mind, heart and soul because God is with us.



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